Brand – aligning personal with business
Regardless of whether you invest any time into it or not, we all have a personal ‘brand’. Simply put, a personal brand is how you are perceived by the people you engage with. It comes through in your conversations, the stories told about you, and even what you wear, so anyone you interact with will have some opinion of who you are and what you stand for. Because you are curating this brand all the time, either consciously or unconsciously, it is worth taking a step back to ensure that how you present yourself is truly aligned with your values and beliefs – and a good place to start is where you work.
Any brand, personal or business, should be created from the inside out. It isn’t about having the best logo, or the biggest following on social media – it goes much deeper. Values and purpose should be the foundation of any strong brand and informs everything from how teams work together internally, right through to the external initiatives the business supports.
While this is easy (or at least easier) to do on a personal level, it’s much harder as a company, but why? Businesses are an accumulation of people, all with their own values and beliefs, and sometimes these are misaligned from the start. Values are set by the senior team and when there is little buy-in from the wider business, these are diluted over time. This impacts the organisation as a whole and could also lead to damage to the brand from an external perspective.
As an example, a business can say that ‘openness’ is a value. This will form part of their external messaging and be promoted in their marketing materials. However, if the staff in the business conceal information from clients or are known to tell half-truths, the brand will be perceived as the opposite. This is why the values in your business must be representative of the values you hold, as ultimately, it is the staff that showcase them to the market.
Having an alignment between your business and personal brand matters – you spend a lot of time there, and the association alone will have an impact on how you are perceived. Let’s say, for example, you are a long-serving senior manager in a business with a poor reputation. How does this look to the outside world? People may assume that you, at least to some degree, align with the brand of the business. You have been there a long time, you have led the team, and you have had significant input into the business itself. As the old saying goes, actions speak louder than words – and what you do, or in this case, where you work, will have an impact on your personal brand.
We have covered the bad, but what are the positives of having alignment between brands? As cliched as it is – synergy. Synergy is working together to create a combined effect that is greater than the sum of their separate effects. When you align with your workplace, you become an advocate for them. You fit into the organisation, you feel connected and engaged with the values, and you support them wholeheartedly in their purpose. You work to create success, and this is shared together. Your personal and business brands will complement one another, and you can start to leverage their content to promote your own brand. It increases the reach of the business and, if you work for a strong brand name, you have an opportunity to utilise its status to enhance your own visibility.
So, what can you do to align your brand with the brand of your business?
Firstly, you should try to work with a brand that you believe in. You should hold similar values and feel confident that the way you do business is the right way. Of course, this is no mean feat if you are already in an organisation that you don’t align with, but it is worth considering the longer-term impact of working for a brand that you don’t believe in. When looking for a new role, it’s important to ask questions about culture and values to ensure that it is a fit for you. You should do your research into the company, look at the initiatives they support, and the messaging that comes from senior leaders in the business. At the end of the day, you can’t align your brand to a business if you don’t agree with anything that they stand for.
Secondly, you should tailor your message to suit your businesses brand. It’s unlikely that you will be an identical match to where you work – even if your values are the same, your priorities will be different. However, they will be similar and easily adapted to your style and brand. You should keep to the business’s tone of voice while adding your personality and views. Because your personal brand is just that, personal, it should always feel authentic to you. If you move to a new role, you will carry this with you, so you don’t want to appear like a carbon copy of the company LinkedIn profile. This might seem challenging, but if you are bought in to the organisation’s values and purpose, it will happen almost naturally.
Finally, be an advocate for your business. When you are proud of where you work, it is much easier to shout about it. It makes up a huge part of our lives, so we should be glad to share this with others. You can be an advocate for people to join your team, or for customers to buy your product. Either way, when everyone is working together and toward the same goal, success will be shared with all. Opportunities will also arise within your business that will benefit you in the long run. It could be to create new content, be the face of a campaign, or maybe lead a project. Regardless of what these opportunities look like for you, they will help you advance your career and bolster your experience.
Having a strong personal brand has its benefits – it can help you develop your career, get in front of potential clients and customers, and will give you more control over how you are perceived in the market. When this aligns with your business and is utilised for shared success, it can open up even more opportunities – not just for you, but for the wider organisation as well. And remember, your brand already exists, so make sure it’s true to you.
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